The Gulf Coast Bird Observatory headquarters building in Lake Jackson is on 34 acres of Brazoria bottomland forest along the Camp Buffalo Bayou. Beautiful green forests are surrounded by water. Even though right off SH 332 and just outside town, it feels and looks like you are far into nature. We enjoy these grounds every day as well as the many birds visible from our office windows.

Windows allow sunlight inside and also a view outside into nature. We all need that to survive and live a nice, healthy life. But all those windows have come with a cost – bird strikes. It is estimated that window strikes by birds cause more than 1 billion bird deaths per year in the U.S. alone. That’s a huge number. Birds don’t see the glass and thinks it’s an opening to fly through. Often, the window is giving reflecting views of trees and it looks natural to a bird.

Tall buildings in cities that leave lights on at night attract migrating birds, which contributes to the massive number of window strikes there. But smaller business buildings and private homes also contribute to the large number of birds that fly into windows. Although we have not had a huge number of birds striking our windows here at GCBO, we have had several. One bird strike is one too many.

We have finally taken steps to stop more bird fatalities or injuries. Through an initial donation of BirdTape from the American Bird Conservancy and an additional purchase of more, we are now becoming bird strike free. This semitransparent tape is applied to the outside of windows to break up the open space that birds perceive as a flight path. At first, it might be distracting for us and may not give quite the same view out, but we are quickly adjusting. We are still watching nature and birds through our windows with no problem. It’s an easy solution, and it’s not super expensive.

We have some wonderful volunteers at GCBO. Harold and Sheryl Travis have been applying the BirdTape for us. It requires some work, especially on a large building, like ours, with so many windows, but it’s a task we should all be able to do.

Birds that strike windows often die instantly, but some are stunned or knocked out cold. Some of these birds seem to recuperate and fly off in a while. And while that seems great, they often have internal injuries that lead to death later. If you can pick up a stunned bird, place it in a dark box and transport it to your nearest wildlife rehabilitation facility, it will have a much better chance of survival. Do not try to feed it or give it water as this can injure the bird in the future.

We can all do things to alleviate the obstacles and dangers to birds that we have created. This is an easy one. Join us in becoming bird strike-free.

Martin Hagne is the Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory. The GCBO is a nonprofit organization dedicated to saving the birds and their habitats along the entire Gulf Coast and beyond into their Central and South America wintering grounds.

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